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Mediterranean Quarterly 12.1 (2001) 120-121

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Book Review

The Cyprus Conspiracy:
America, Espionage and the Turkish Invasion

Brendan O'Malley and Ian Craig: The Cyprus Conspiracy: America, Espionage and the Turkish Invasion. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1999. 260 pages. ISBN 1-86064-439-2. $29.95.

This book is a timely and provocative interpretation of the events surrounding the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the role of the United States in these events. Brendan O'Malley, editor of the Times Education Supplement of London and Ian Craig, political editor of the Manchester Evening News, base their analysis on extensive interviews, including one with Henry Kissinger; documentary evidence, mainly from British archives; various memoirs; and personal accounts.

The interview with Kissinger was conducted the day before Years of Renewal, the last volume of memoirs, came out in American bookstores. In that volume, Kissinger devoted some forty-seven pages to Cyprus. He presented the Cyprus problem in the context of post-Cold War ethnic conflicts and attributes the problem to everyone and everything involved, excluding himself and the decisions and actions he took in the dispute. According to O'Malley and Craig, however, Kissinger emerges as the main
villain in the problem. They also challenge the notion that the United States has attempted to play the role of an honest broker in Cyprus. Thus, they criticize Kissinger for misinterpreting in his memoirs his role during the 1974 crisis and for attributing the crisis to the Watergate paralysis in Washington. The authors argue that, because of Watergate, Kissinger was uniquely positioned to manage the crisis without presidential supervision. They also dispute the American and Turkish attribution that the Cyprus problem was the result of deep ethnic divisions.

The book traces in detail the strategic significance of Cyprus for Britain and the United States and discusses the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's involvement in the dispute. The authors present new evidence on the ways that Britain and the United States, in the aftermath of the 1963 crisis, prepared schemes for changing the constitutional system of the Republic of Cyprus to one based on federalism, which would have required a population exchange, given the demographic patterns of the Greek and [End Page 120] Turkish communities. They also provide intimate details of the diplomacy of George Ball and Dean Acheson in spring and summer 1964. What is shocking was that both the United States and Britain, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, discussed and planned a "disciplined" Turkish military intervention in Cyprus, one that would secure Turkey's interests on the island without risking a war between Greece and Turkey.

O'Malley and Craig's book also provides extensive details on the importance for Britain and the United States of the recently revealed British electronic monitoring facilities on Cyprus, which were used to monitor telecommunications around the world. In addition to being an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" on the doorstep of the Middle East, Cyprus possessed invaluable facilities that covered the critical region of Central Asia.

The most intriguing and provocative finding of this book has to do with Britain's role during the 1974 crisis. Contrary to views held in Greece and Cyprus, the authors argue that Washington vetoed Britain's proposal to interpose a naval task force between the island and the Turkish invasion fleet. It has been commonly assumed in Cyprus that the British actively assisted the Turkish invasion. Kissinger denies having vetoed the interposition of the British naval task force, but over the next few years more details are likely to emerge on this subject with the declassification of British and American documents. Finally, the authors conclude that the 1974 Turkish invasion was not a failure of American policy but the realization of a long-standing plan. Washington, therefore, has not been an honest broker in the Cyprus dispute.

Had these conclusions been reached by Greek or Greek Cypriot analysts, they could have been easily dismissed by Washington spinmasters. O'Malley and Craig's account not only does not carry this baggage, it reflects evidence primarily...


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